Police officers undergo Intoxilyzer training in London

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Breathalyzer test

Laura Barclay

THIS IS A DIDGERIDOO YOU CAN BE INDICTED FOR. 29 police officers from across Ontario gathered at the Wolseley Barracks yesterday to take part in Intoxilyzer training. The course runs for two weeks and is conducted in London almost every two years.

In compliance with the Centre of Forensic Sciences, 29 police officers from across the province gathered at the Wolseley Barracks in London yesterday in varying states of sobriety for Intoxilyzer training.

“What this [training] does is allow London to be better equipped to deal with the issue of drunk driving,” said Sergeant Tom O’Brien of the London Police Service.

The Intoxilyzer test, which uses infrared spectroscopy to detect the presence of ethanol in a person’s breath, is only administered once a subject has failed a roadside breath test.

The two-week course, which is conducted roughly every two years in London, offers specialized training with Intoxilyzer equipment for officers in pursuit of additional expertise.

“We had 47 officers qualified to use this equipment in London as of 2007,” O’Brien said. “This [course] will hopefully add 14 more.”

For training purposes the class has been divided into designated drinkers and sober trainees to replicate a realistic scenario for testing. Subjects were also given mouthwash, which failed to fool the machine.

“Part of the training is having your friends test you,” said Constable Jeff Martin, breath testing co-ordinator for the LPS. “It’s supposed to teach the students their own limitations as well.”

Intoxilyzer training

“It’s important to always have a breath test available, especially with the time requirements,” added Constable Jason Vandervegte who attended the course along with a fellow officer from his police force in Kennoral, Ontario.

“Statistically I’m not sure how we’re doing, but drunk driving is still a problem,” he added.

According to O’Brien, there has been a 15 per cent increase in drunk driving arrests in London since 2007. Students contribute to the problem, he explained. Drivers in their 20s have made up 40 per cent of the 427 drunk driving offences this year.

“We catch brand new students every year in the first week [of school],” O’Brien said. “Their parents leave and they suddenly forget the rules they got growing up.”

As O’Brien explained, the danger among younger drinkers is they might not understand that differences in body size and gender result in different tolerances for alcohol.

“University among other things is a rite of passage,” O’Brien continued.

“The message is that life is long and university is only a small part of it. Don’t ruin the rest by drinking and driving in university.”

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